Federalism in Nepal – The Federal System of Government in Nepal


Get here a post about the Federal System of Government in Nepal. We have posted some information, facts about the Federal System of Government in Nepal. This system is new for South Asian country Nepal. There are many challenges and opportunities in the federal system of governance in Nepal.

We can’t ignore the federal system of governance in Nepal challenges and opportunities. Do You know why is federal system felt necessary in Nepal? This post may help you with my question “why is the federal system felt necessary in Nepal?”

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The Federal System of Government in Nepal

Nepal is a landlocked sovereign country located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the North by the People’s Republic of China, and to the South, East and West by the Republic of India. It occupies an area of 1,47,181 Sq. Km.

It is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of bio-diversity due to its unique geographical position and altitude variation. Our country ranges from 60m above the sea level to the highest point on earth Mt. Everest at 8,848 meters.

There are broadly two concepts of the system of government: Unitary & Federal. Nepal practiced the unitary system of government throughout its recorded history. However, it has been felt that it was not effective for the development and unity of the country. This was visibly expressed by the people during the People’s Movement-II in 2062/63 BS.

The course of history got changed in 2063 BS. People raised voices for a federal system of government. Nepal was then declared as the Democratic Federal Republic by the Interim Constitution-2063 BS. Now, we are in the process of making a ‘New Nepal’ on the federal concept.

See: about 7 provinces of Nepal 

We elected a ‘Constituent Assembly’ to write a new constitution on this concept on 28th Chaitra 2064 BS. But it was failed due to various reasons in its mission and got dissolved after four years. The election for the Constituent Assembly-II was successfully conducted on 4th Marga 2070 BS.

One hundred and twenty-two (122) political parties participated in this election, and 30 of them got representation in the Constituent Assembly-II. This Constituent Assembly has owned the fundamental concepts adopted by the Constituent Assembly-I and is working to promulgate a new constitution of Nepal.

There is a necessity of a federal system in Nepal. The necessity of federal system in Nepal is clean and clear. The unitary system of government has been practiced in Nepal for a long time. Balance and proportional development through the concept of regional development have been a major effort under the unitary system.

But we can’t ignore the importance of the federal system in Nepal. But, this effort has been confined only in the blue print. We will, of course, get advantages of federalism in Nepal. We must consider more about resource allocation in federalism in Nepal.

The Federal System of Government in Nepal importance neccessity advantages
photo source: ekantipur.com of The Federal System of Government in Nepal

Poverty, regional imbalance and unemployment still remained a major problem in the country. Therefore, federalism was raised as a political agenda against the unitary system after the success of people’s movement II, 2062/063.

The second amendment of the Interim Constitution of Nepal 2063 endorsed the concern of Nepalese people through different political parties to make Nepal a federal country. The first meeting of the first Constituent Assembly, which was held on 15th Jestha 2065 declared Nepal as “Federal Democratic Republic Country”.

However, the Constituent Assembly (Jestha 2065-2069) could not settle the various issues regarding the determination of federal units in Nepal. So, the federal system is not yet implemented in Nepal.

SEE Also: essay on federalism in Nepal and its future

What is the federal system?

The federal system is a political system where a country is divided into different autonomous states or provinces. Each state or province has a separate government along with its federal government in the center. Generally, there are three administrative units under the federal system. They are the central government, state government, and local bodies.

Features of Federal (Central) Government

  • Foreign affairs
  • National monetary policy
  • National security and military management
  • The national highway, railway, postal service
  • Big hydropower, multi-provincial project

Features of Provincial (State) Government

  • Formulate state policies and laws
  • Mobilize state security force and maintain public security
  • Carry out local development activities
  • Construct development infrastructures
  • Preserve language, art, culture and other heritage

In the USA, the state government is responsible for the affairs related to the state including education and health. The central or the federal government is responsible for the external defense, national monitor policies, foreign affairs, and military mobilization.

In the federal system, when the state government is found to be ineffective and unsuccessful or when the national emergency is declared, the federal government controls and directs the respective states until another appropriate arrangement is made.

See: List of 7 States in Nepal

The concept of federalism in Nepal is born some years ago but now Nepal is on the way of the concept of federalism in Nepal. Although there are some challenges of the federal system in Nepal and Nepali is ready to face the challenges of the federal system in Nepal. But after facing the challenges of the federal system in Nepal, We will get benefits of the federal system in Nepal. pal.

NeAt present about 28 countries of the world is having the federal system. This system is in practice in India, the USA, Canada, Belgium, Spain, Australia, Ethiopia, South Africa, etc. In this system, states are formed on the basis of geographical structure, race, and language, population, natural and human resources, etc.

Why is the federal system felt necessary in Nepal?

There are many causes of the necessity of a federal system in Nepal. We have pointed out some points about the necessity of the federal system in Nepal. Know about Why is federal system felt necessary in Nepal?

1. The structure of Nepalese society is of multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, and multi-cultural. The state did not address this diversity in time and the expectation of people increased in such a way that their expectations could be fulfilled only in the federal system.

2. For healthy, sound competitive and proportional development of all the nooks and corners of the country.

3. Development regions were created for decentralization but powers, authority and development activities were centralized in the capital. The development has not reached every nook and corner of the country.

4. The unitary system had failed to mobilize the resources for balanced and justifiable development.

Advantages or Good Aspects of the Federal System in Nepal

No political system is perfect in itself. Every political system has its good and bad aspects. Some good aspects of the federal system are:

⇒ Maintains close relation between the state and its people.
⇒ Conflict may settle at the local level.
⇒ Maximum use of means and resources.
⇒ Does not hamper the country even if the central government is dissolved.
⇒ No need to depend on the center for everything.
⇒ Increment of public participation in government activities.
⇒ Accelerate development activities.
⇒ Local and ethnic art, culture and heritage can be well protected.

⇒ Helps to maintain balanced population distribution.
⇒ Rapid and harmonious development in a nation
⇒ Smooth and effective running of the administration
⇒ Sustainable utilization of means and resources
⇒ Decentralization of power
⇒ Less burden to the central government in administrative affairs
⇒ Equal representation of people in the development and other works
⇒ Concept of self-reliance develops and dependency on others is discouraged
⇒ Maximum participation of people in development and decision making.

Demerits of Federalism

⇒ Unhealthy and unnecessary competition may take place between the provinces for development.
⇒ Overlapping of work between the provinces.
⇒ The country may divide or split.
⇒ Expensive form of government

Challenging Aspects of the Federal System in Nepal

Besides the good aspects of the federal system it may create some problems and challenges,
like:

⇒ Unequal distribution of means and resources between the states may cause unequal development and misunderstanding among the states.

⇒ There may be a conflict between the states regarding the use of natural resources of border areas.

⇒ The Federal system of government is more expensive so that there may be a lack of sufficient budget for its successful operation.
⇒ There may be a misunderstanding between the federal government and the provincial government regarding the sharing of power and authorities.

⇒ The provinces may demand a different and a separate state which can threaten the national integrity and indivisibility of the nation

⇒ The cultural and ethnic diversity can cause a challenge regarding the state language and maintain equal recognition to all cultural groups.

The Major Difference in the federal government and State government

Federal GovernmentState Government
It is run and executed by the Prime Minister or President.It is run and executed by the Chief Minister or Governor.
It has sovereignty over the whole
country.
It has sovereignty over each respective
state.
It runs all the states combined under the common federal law.It is operated under state-wise law
It looks after matters related to external defense, foreign affairs, etc.It looks after the matters related to education, health, etc of the concerned state.
 All important national issues are looked after by central government such as mobilization of the army, declaring an emergency, construction of the highway, railway, generation of hydroelectricity, maintaining border security, etc.
 All development works required for the state are developed and looked after by state government.
 It controls national currency and economy by forming national monetary policy. It prepares an annual budget, collects the tax, revenues, etc.
 It maintains sovereignty over all the states. It maintains sovereignty over itself.
It looks after foreign affairs such as defense, declaring war, signing treaties, agreements, and contracts, appointing and receiving ambassadors and developing the diplomatic relationship.It forms and executes own plans, policies, and programs required for the state.
 
 

The basic functions and criteria are different from each other between central and provincial governments in federalism.

In this way, there is always a check and balance on the activities of the central government and provincial governments. Though the provincial governments are autonomous, they are controlled by the provision of law. State restructuring is a process of political re-imagination of the state as per the changed circumstances.

In this process, there can be a readjustment in the internal political division of the nation, devolution of power to the local bodies a°d state can be more ‘  democratic and inclusive with special arrangements to who is left behind.

Facts into Consideration in Federalism

While dividing Nepal into federal units, various aspects need to be kept under consideration. First, it should recognize the capacity and resources available in the country. Whether a nation can afford such a system or not should be given due value. Second, the total number of provinces should be fixed scientifically, not as a whim. Next, the naming process of the provinces should be done on the three bases (without disintegrating the unity):

(i) geographical identity or resources,

(ii) ethnicity or caste, and

(iii) the mixed form of both.

All in all, the strength and recognition of the nation and citizen should not be ignored at any cost.

We all know that our present constitution promulgated on 3 Asoj, 2072 has adopted federalism and republicanism. Federalism is a dual government system in which there are parallel governments at the national level and local level. The constitution has highly encouraged decentralization of power and public participation. Actually, the Constitution has provided for three levels of government. They are as follows:

1. Federal government:

This is the national level government situated in the capital of the country i.e. Kathmandu. It consists of the national legislature, executive, and judiciary. The President is the head of the state and the Prime Minister is the head of the
government i.e. the executive. According to the Constitution, there are two houses in the federal legislature; the House of Representative (lower house) and the National Assembly (upper house). The Supreme Court is the judicial organ of the federal government.

2. Regional government:

In addition to the national government in the capital, there is an autonomous provincial government in each of the provincial states. The executive there is headed by the Chief Minister. Each state has its own legislature and judiciary (high court), too.

3. Local governments:

There are also governments at a local level of village/town and district. According to the new constitution, the executive power of local levels is vested in village executive (guan Palika) and municipal executive (Nagar Palika).

They have the power to direct, control and conduct the governance system of village and town level respectively. There is also village/town assembly that works as the local legislature of village/town. In addition, there is a legislative body in each district. It is called the District Assembly.

District Assembly

According to the Constitution of Nepal, there is a District Assembly in each district. It consists of the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of all village executives (guan Palika) as well as the Mayors and Deputy Mayors of all municipalities within the concerned district. The first meeting of the District Assembly is held within 30 days after the publication of final results of the elections of the Village Assemblies and Town Assemblies.

District Coordination Committee

Similarly, there is a District Coordination Committee in every district. It consists of a Chairman, a Vice Chairman and maximum of 9 members including at least 3 women and a Dalit or minority citizen elected by the District Assembly. It performs all the tasks that are to be carried out from the side of the District Assembly.

The powers and functions of the District Assembly are as follows.

  • To coordinate among the village governments (guan Palika) and municipal governments (Nagar Palika) within the district
  • To monitor the development and construction activities in order to maintain a balance in them
  • To coordinate between the federal and provincial offices within the district and the village governments (guan Palika) and municipal governments (Nagar Palika)
  • To carry out other functions according to the laws of the provincial states

Any member of a Village Assembly or a Town Assembly will be eligible for the post of the Chairman, Vice Chairman or member of the District Coordination Committee of the concerned district. Once elected to any of the posts, he/she will automatically lose his/her post in the Village Assembly or Town Assembly.
The tenure of the Chairman, Vice Chairman and members of a District Coordination Committee will be 5 years from the date of appointment.

Powers of the Local Levels

The powers of the local levels (village/town governments as well as district-level governments) as stated by the Constitution are as follows,

  • Town police
  • Cooperative organizations
  • Operation of FM radios
  • Local taxes (property tax, house rent tax, service tax, land revenues, etc.)
  • Management of local services
  • Collection of local statistics and records
  • Development of plans and projects of local levels
  • Basic and secondary education
  • Basic health and sanitation
  • Management of local market, environmental conservation, and biodiversity
  • Local roads, village roads, agricultural roads, and irrigation
  • Management of village assembly, town assembly, district assembly, local courts
    reconciliation and mediation
  • Management of local records
  • Distribution of land and house ownership certificates
  • Agriculture and animal husbandry, management of agro-products, animal health, and cooperatives
  • Management of senior citizens, disabled and the weak
  • Collection of the statistics of the unemployed
  • Management, operation, and control of the agricultural expansion
  • Drinking water, micro-hydro projects, alternative energy
  • Disaster management
  • Conservation of watersheds, wildlife, and mines as well as minerals
  • Preservation and development of language, culture and fine art

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Article Writer: Ram Hari Poudel, Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal

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Written by

Jitendra Sahayogee

I am Jitendra Sahayogee, a Writer of 12 Nepali Books, Director of Maithili films, Founder of Radio Stations, Designer of Websites and Editor of Some Nepali Blogs.

4 thoughts on “Federalism in Nepal – The Federal System of Government in Nepal

  1. Would you please give detail information about the role of central,provincial and local government and the people for the successful implementation of federal system in the country.
    Hope you will get back to me soon.

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